Delightful, charming and uproariously funny. ★★★★★

© Geraint Lewis

Reduced Shakespeare Company put on a masterful performance combining Shakespeare’s most and least known plays and characters into a fiendish cauldron, summoning up hilarious crossover tales that made the audience laugh out loud. Reed Martin and Austin Tichenor designed ‘William Shakespeare’s Long Lost First Play’ with all Shakespeare levels in mind. Whether you are a beginner or a scholar, there was something for you to laugh at, recall the connection, and laugh again. Perhaps rekindle fond memories of school, rehearsal and at a theatre.

The three actors commanded their craft with expertise and mastery. It was very clear, very quickly, that Joseph Maudsley, Matthew Pearson and James Percy had studied, played and understood the plots and twists written by the Bard. I chiefly loved the scene in which one actor was attributing Disney connections with Shakespeare’s plays. The ‘Frozen’ and ‘A Winter’s Tale’ link was one of the funniest moments because when the other actor contested that connection, the other said ‘let it go’. The speed in which the three actors morphed, transformed, and changed to represent the different characters was astonishing, as well as the effervescent energy that glued the audience to their every move. The plot crossovers were also something to remember, in particular, Lady Macbeth coming onto Hamlet, and Richard III getting it on with Falstaff. It was so enjoyable to watch the twists and contrivances that got them to be together. Archenemies Ariel and Puck were the thread that brought the stories together, played by Joseph Maudsley and James Percy respectively, convincingly demonstrated that all of Shakespeare’s plays could coexist in the same universe. Who knew?

The set was very stripped down with only one arch as the backdrop. However, this made it even more special because it became all about the actors, with their props and fanciful attires that coloured the stage with the gags, tricks, and exquisite storytelling that we saw last night. I want to see them again!

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Running 14th and 15th February.